HSE faces bill of €200m as agency staff cover hospitals
THE bill for agency staff to provide cover in hospitals and other areas of the health service is on course to reach around €200m this year -- higher than the €169m paid out in 2010, writes Eilish O'Regan.
The rise comes despite cuts in the rates paid to agency staff, such as nurses and doctors, after the HSE secured a new deal with agencies.
The rise in the costs is mostly due to the moratorium on recruitment and the need to fill vacancies left by staff who could not be replaced.
The €169m total for last year is higher than the €151m which was provided in a parliamentary reply by Minister for Health James Reilly.
Mr Reilly said the biggest spend of €49m last year went on hiring agency nurses while another €41m went on agency doctors. After tendering for the service for the first time the HSE confined its business to a number of agencies which signed agreements involving lower rates of pay for staff.
Some doctors have opted for agency work, rather than contract work, because it still pays better.